Letter: Unfettered Big Tub Growth in the Interest of Monetary Profits


The following letter was submitted to Megan Myles, Township of Northern Bruce Peninsula Council
Dear Megan:
I am writing to you and the council about the recent developments around Big Tub Harbour in Tobermory. I am writing as someone who had lived on Big Tub Harbour year round from 1981 to 2018 (37 years) and someone who has been very involved with the Big Tub Harbour Citizen’s Committee and very involved with community as a whole.
When we first moved there in 1981, Big Tub Harbour really was its own little community. Cottagers brought their children there for generations. Time was spent swimming and snorkeling the shipwrecks. The shipwrecks were then in very good condition and very accessible. The Big Tub Road was very quiet and suitable for kids to walk on and commercial activity was very limited.
No one expects everything to stay the same but with the establishment of the National Park and with the increase in Tour Boat Traffic and tourism in general, we have really seen unfettered growth. Some of this was anticipated. When the provincial government turned the park over to the federal government the residents of Tobermory received a written guarantee that their enjoyment of their properties would be protected and that they would be “buffered” from development.
What has happened is that a little fishing village with a strong identity has changed into a smaller version of Niagara Falls, complete with traffic jams, tour buses, swarms of large tour boats and helicopters. This is supported by the people who profit from this activity and is driven by money but it may not be what was intended or where the average citizen wants things to go.
Now we have The Bruce Anchor Company in possession of the Big Tub Lodge Property, as well as the adjoining Symes property. The owner, Brent Robins, is lobbying very hard to bring his tour boat operation to this location. When he bought these properties he was fully aware that there would be opposition but he invested a large amount of money, presumably with the conviction that he could push this through.
If this happens then it would mean up to a 1,000 extra people per day travelling to this location. All these tourists would require some entertainment while they wait, they would need toilets and garbage disposal and directions. This would result in a huge increase in traffic on the Big Tub Road, plus extra garbage trucks and sewage trucks. We can expect to see traffic jams and parking problems and increased garbage. Likely there would also be loud speakers directing the passengers and there would be issues of how to fuel the boats.
Almost all of Big Tub Harbour is surrounded by 34 residential properties. The road is a narrow, winding, tar and chip road. There is a lot of pedestrian traffic which consists of the cottagers and residents and their guests and an increasing number of tourists walking to the Lighthouse area in order to avoid the parking fees and parking problems. This road is definitely not suitable for the proposed increase in traffic and this would pose some serious safety issues and traffic issues. The small harbour is already subject to some very significant environmental stresses and this can only make things worse.
Parks Canada is opposed to using the water lot at the former Big Tub property for the proposed tour business. However Parks Canada does not have jurisdiction over the Symes property. The municipality has jurisdiction over the road and presumably some sort of commercial license would be required to start up such a business.
Likely it is time to do some studies of the impacts of any such development and to also take some sort of poll of the taxpayers in this area, as to what they want to see for the future of Tobermory. In the past 30 years the residents of Big Tub Harbour have paid somewhere in the order of five million dollars in municipal taxes. They should have some voice. This development would have a very major negative impact on their enjoyment of their properties. It definitely represents more unfettered growth in the interest of monetary profits.
Dr. Ralph Suke